Muriel Rukeyser

(December 15, 1913 – February 12, 1980 / New York City)

Muriel Rukeyser Quotes

  • ''Our poems will have failed if our readers are not brought by them beyond the poems.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 5 (1949).
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  • ''If there were no poetry on any day in the world, poetry would be invented that day. For there would be an intolerable hunger.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 10 (1949).
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  • ''Exchange is creation.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 11 (1949).
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  • ''Flight is intolerable contradiction.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. "Theory of Flight," line 8 (1935).
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  • ''I think there is choice possible at any moment to us, as long as we live. But there is no sacrifice. There is a choice, and the rest falls away. Second choice does not exist. Beware of those who talk about sacrifice.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 11 (1949).
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  • ''Everywhere we are told that our human resources are all to be used, that our civilization itself means the uses of everything it has—the inventions, the histories, every scrap of fact. But there is one kind of knowledge—infinitely precious, time- resistant more than monuments, here to be passed between the generations in any way it may be: never to be used. And that is poetry.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 1 (1949).
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  • ''Poetry is, above all, an approach to the truth of feeling.... A fine poem will seize your imagination intellectually—that is, when you reach it, you will reach it intellectually too— but the way is through emotion, through what we call feeling.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 1 (1949).
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  • ''The sources of poetry are in the spirit seeking completeness.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 13 (1949).
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  • ''Those who speak of our culture as dead or dying have a quarrel with life, and I think they cannot understand its terms, but must endlessly repeat the projection of their own desires.''
    Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), U.S. poet. The Life of Poetry, ch. 3 (1949).
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Best Poem of Muriel Rukeyser

26-1-1939

When Barcelona fell, the darkened glass
turned in the world and immense ruinous gaze,
mirror of prophecy in a series of mirrors.
I meet it in all the faces that I see.

Decisions of history the radios reverse;
Storm over continents, black rays around the chief,
Finished in lightning, the little chaos raves.
I meet it in all the faces that I see.

Inverted year with one prophetic day,
high wind, forgetful cities, and the war,
the terrible time when everyone writes “hope.”
I meet it in all the faces that I see.

When Barcelona fell, the cry on the ...

Read the full of 26-1-1939

Ajanta

CAME in my full youth to the midnight cave
nerves ringing; and this thing I did alone.
Wanting my fulness and not a field of war,
for the world considered annihilation, a star
called Wormwood rose and flickered, shattering
bent light over the dead boiling up in the ground,
the biting yellow of their corrupted lives
streaming to war, denying all our words.
Nothing was left among the tainted weather

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